Archive for September, 2010

Recommended number of “Design Thinkers” for a company

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

How many Design Thinkers should your company have?

One way to think about it might be . . .
If we consider Design Thinkers to be at the level of strategy. And most corporations do ok if their executives spend about 1 or 2 days a year on strategy or about 1/2 of a percent of their time. And if management to staff ratio is 1:11.

If a company has 10000 people, then about 900/100 = 9

Company size 1000 = 1 Design Thinker
Company size 10K = 9 Design Thinkers
Company size 100K = 90 Design Thinkers

The above is just a thought exercise in trying to come up with a heuristic for an executive who asks “Hey, I agree that Design Thinking is important, I am going to start a department, How many Design Thinkers should I hire?” Can we even think about staffing Design Thinkers like we think about staffing accountants or salespeople?

Top 6 ways of working from “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Friday, September 10th, 2010

My notes from “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky
Top 6 ways of working – These are the top 6 ways of working that I think will have the most impact in moving my user experience ideas forward.

1 (p215)
The backward clock – You are sitting in a dull meeting. Tuning out the conversation, you become entranced by the passage of time on the wall clock. You watch sixty second pass, a minute of your life you will never get back.
During that time, were you taking any risks to push your ideas toward fruition? Were you moving the ball forward in any way? Were you marketing yourself for an opportunity to get closer to your true interests — or angling to further develop an area of expertise? Were you harnessing the forces of connection and opportunity around you?

2 (p98)
It should be clear by now that organizing life into a series of projects

3 (p98)
Manage those projects with a bias toward action, and always moving the ball forward are critical for execution

4 (p151)
Fight the desire to wait for instructions

5 (p84)
I’m starting to believe that life is just about following up

6 (p77)
Kill ideas liberally — for the sake of fully pursuing others

My notes from The Laws of Simplicity by Maeda

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Here are my notes of “The Laws of Simplicity” by John Maeda

5 Sentence Summary

The acceleration of information and the features/functionalities of technology are leading to a more complex environment. A rapidly changing environment is harder to adapt to with our current culture. It is now becoming easier to change the environment than change our culture. As a general approach we need to take things out and increase the meaning. Do this by what he calls simplification – Many of the things have to do with our reactions (so making things thin and light – which seems to not address the root issue but is more lipstick on a pig, making them fast (though this is a fight fire with fire approach), and putting things into an order (like nature)

Book notes by page number

Our mission is to define the business value of simplicity in communication, healthcare, and play. Together we design and create prototype systems and technologies that point to directions where simplicity-driven products can lead to market success.

People not only buy, but more importantly love, designs that can make their lives simpler.

the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove.

Of the many tools at the artist’s disposal to achieve enhanced small-ification are lightness and thinness.

the tab key that could lend the magic possibility of creating order from chaos.

“What program do you use?” is a question I often get . . . the proper answer is to counter-suggest the questioning of a different question “What principle do you use?” . . . gridding

When any interaction with products or service providers happens quickly, we attribute this efficiency to the perceived simplicity of experience.

Giving up the option of choice, and letting a machine choose for you, is a radical approach to shrinking the time we might spend otherwise fumbling with the iPod’s scroll-wheel.

Thus choosing when to care less versus when to care more lies at the heart of living an efficient but fulfilling daily life.

… finding the right balance between simplicity and complexity is difficult . . . a solution I have found is in the concept of rhythm, which is grounded in the modulation of difference.

The bridging experience that connects the foreground and background contexts can be made explicit as in a map, or less explicit as in the blue painted markers of the forest

transitions from simple to complex are a key consideration in the rhythm of feeling.

More emotions are better than less.

The best art makes your head spin with questions. Perhaps this is the fundamental distinction between pure art and pure design. While great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clear.

Afterwards, this brave woman came up with a solution that could bridge the gap between message and emotion. With five months left to live, she started a foundation to create intensely artful, beautifully designed centers near oncology units, where those first facing death can soak their minds and hearts. Art- a reason to live – is tempered with design – the clarity of message.

For instance, a “send to Aunt Mabel” button can appear just before her birthday.

B&O doesn’t focus on the quality of sound, but on the quality of leaning back . . . and just enjoying something.

Omakase translates roughly to “I leave it up to you” where “you” refers to the sushi chef. The process is simple. The sushi chef looks at you, does a rough analysis of your general disposition, reflects upon the season and the day’s weather, factors into consideration the variety of fish he has available in his arsenal, forms a rough idea for the optimal menu, starts the process of delivering the meal in measured increments, attentively observes your reaction, and tweaks the meal accordingly.

the more a system knows about you, the less you have to think. Conversely, the more you know about the system, the greater control you can exact.

There’s always an ROF (Return on Failure) when you try to simplify – which is to learn from your mistakes.

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

More appears like less by simply moving it far, far away. Thus an experience is made simpler by keeping the result local, and moving the actual work to a far away location.


How simple can you make it? << >> How complex does it have to be?
How can you make the wait shorter? << >> How can you make the wait more tolerable?
How directed can I stand to feel? << >> How directionless can I afford to be?
How much do you need to know about a system? << >> How much does the system know about you?

A mass customized happiness survey instrument

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Warning: Esoteric (and very raw) musings on survey construction (ahh, but this is what a blog is for)
Websites are asking people if the like/dislike a product. But not about what those products “mean” to people.

Is a possible way to figure out “meaning”  to set emic anchor points that people could give us, and then use those anchors as a Lickert scale of how to evaluate if the product is making them happy?

Is a new kind of survey philosophy that takes advantage of the computational power we now have and allows us to construct individualized scaled understandings for each person (respondent) on what is the axis of happiness with appropriate anchor points derived from their individual perspective and only then have them rate products and services and how they fall along that constructed metric. So instead of mass customization fabrication of products, this is mass customization of survey research. It is Eliza, the computer program that simulated a consulting psychologist mashed up with the and a sprinkled with a bit of computer-adaptable SAT-like testing.
Analysis might look something like:

  • Creating a lexical semantic space from the parsed corpora (transcript of respondents walking a researcher through the multidimensional scaling graphic) and their axis, or
  • Cultural consensus modeling, or
  • Factor analysis on each result set and then doing meta-level analysis on the factor rankings.

Possible uses of the analysis would be:

  • Warning on large scale cultural changes as to what makes people happy. Allowing companies to shift feature/functions toward those that register on the appropriate axis,  or
  • Identification of various subcultures or “taste” cultures that could be targeted with more niche products
  • New “package” level constellations of valued features/functions that are more meaningful for customers

See also: How to better understand what makes customers happy – 1 question you can ask

How to better understand what makes customers happy – 1 question you can ask

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Last month I was doing some focus groups. One of the best questions I asked to find out about what makes customers happy was:

“Think about all the things you have bought in your life. What is your best loved thing? How did you come to own it? What meaning does that have for you?”

Yes, one to two people talked about big ticket items like cars, but the majority of people responded with very individualistic and low priced items. We heard them speak less to the features and functions of the object and more the the meaning. Reminds me of John Maeda in “The Laws of Simplicity” urging us to “subtract the obvious and add the meaningful.” The one question also helps put the focus back on the customer’s life, what they value, and what is meaningful in their life. Our product and service designs should fit into that.

See also

Diagram of Happy Customer & Corporate Success

The Age of Customer Satisfaction

Design Rules for Building Happy Customer User Experiences (UX)

How to measure the happiness of customers

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Similar to countries that talk about the Gross National Happiness (GNH) , what companies out there like to talk about the happiness of their customers in comparable terms. Can we measure happy? Can we measure how happy customers are?

If we use similar metrics to the GNH for looking at our customers, what might we measure?

  1. Economic Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce consumer debt, raise average income, and flatten the income distribution?
  2. Environmental Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce pollution, noise, or traffic?
  3. Physical Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce severe illness?
  4. Mental Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce the usage of antidepressants or the number of psychotherapy patients?
  5. Workplace Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce jobless claims, workplace complaints, and lawsuits?
  6. Social Wellness: How much does our product/service reduce discrimination, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflict, family lawsuits, public lawsuits, and crime rates.
  7. Political Wellness: how much does our product/service reduce foreign conflicts and increase local democracy and individual freedom.


Gross National Happiness

See Also

Diagram of Happy Customer & Corporate Success

The Age of Customer Satisfaction

Design Rules for Building Happy Customer  User Experiences (UX)

If you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Sometimes when you is trying to find out a solution and  going through different possibilities someone walks up to you and in 2 or 3 minutes of talk they come up with a workable solution. One way to explain how they did this is that they are not bound by the same rules you are. We get locked up in the rules, the culture, the constraints, the requirements. Genius is figuring out which are the rules that shouldn’t apply and breaking them.


It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden